Fortescue Metals Group worker diagnosed with measles prompts new WA health warning
Updated October 15, 2019 19:10:59
A measles outbreak in Perth’s south has spread to Western Australia’s mining industry after a fly-in, fly-out worker was diagnosed at a Fortescue Metals Group site in the Pilbara.
- There have been 20 confirmed cases of measles in WA since mid-September
- WA’s cluster is linked to a much bigger outbreak in NZ
- People are being urged to stay alert for symptoms of infection
It brings the number of confirmed cases in Western Australia to 22 since mid-September, mainly centred around the city’s southern suburb of Rockingham.
The earlier cases were linked to an infected visitor from New Zealand.
There have been almost 2,000 cases diagnosed in New Zealand this year, including two in pregnant women which caused them to miscarry.
Fortescue today confirmed a member of staff at their Christmas Creek mine site, about 1,150 kilometres north-east of Perth, was diagnosed on Sunday.
“This person was quarantined in the clinic and departed site via RFDS [Royal Flying Doctor Service] immediately,” the company said in a statement.
“Fortescue’s primary focus is on maintaining and providing a safe and healthy work environment.
“Our health and safety team has commenced an action plan to ensure that our people are informed and are working with the Department of Health to implement all controls needed to limit any spread of the infection.”
Workers who were at Christmas Creek and the nearby Cloudbreak site between October 2 and 12 are understood to be at risk of exposure.
The statement said while operations were proceeding as normal, non-essential travel to the two mines had been cancelled for the week.
Qantas flights to and from the mine sites are continuing.
The warning also includes people who visited Cloudbreak Airport and Perth Airport in the past fortnight.
People who were in the same room as the infected individual may be at risk if their vaccinations are not up to date.
Measles symptoms can develop seven to 21 days after sharing the same air as an infected person.
The WA Department of Health said it expected the number of people infected with measles to continue to climb.
Communicable Disease Control Directorate public health physician Donna Mak confirmed the Pilbara victim had contracted the disease in the Rockingham area before flying out to the mine site.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said it was too early to tell whether the disease had spread to other workers.
“Obviously the Department of Health works very closely with all these mine sites where they have a lot of employees in very close proximity with each other, particularly with the fly-in, fly-out workforce,” he said.
First posted October 15, 2019 13:48:58